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No benefits for Bond Broker in 911 Attack

 No Benefits for Bond Broker's PTSD from 9/11 Attack:



A bond broker who narrowly escaped from the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks was not entitled to compensation for his alleged inability to continue with his high-paying profession due to his post-traumatic stress disorder, a New York appellate court ruled.


Case: Matter of Launer v. Euro Brokers, No. 515992, 03/27/2014, published.


Facts: Robert Launer worked as a corporate bond broker within the World Trade Center South Tower.

He was at his 84th floor desk when a hijacked plane hit the tower between its 77th and 85th floors on Sept. 11, 2011.


Launer, then 52, escaped down the stairs before the building collapsed. Sixty-one of his Euro Broker colleagues were not so fortunate – they perished in the attack.


The brokerage firm later went out of business.


After the attack, Launer continued to work as a bond broker at a series of different companies before moving into the financial services field in March 2009.


Launer had been making $150,000 a year at Euro Brokers, but he only brought in $7,019 in 2008, when he filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits blaming the loss of his prosperity on his post-traumatic stress from the 9/11 attack.


Procedural History: A workers' compensation law judge determined that he had a permanent partial disability that had greatly reduced his earning income from Jan. 1, 2007, onward.


A Workers' Compensation Board appeals panel concluded that his reduction in earnings was not a consequence of a compensable disability, however, and took away Launer's PPD award.


Launer sought reconsideration by the full board, but it upheld the panel's 7-to-6 decision.


Analysis: The Appellate Division's 3rd Department explained that Launer bore the burden of establishing that his reduced earning capacity was due to his PTSD and not to unrelated factors such as his age or the general condition of the economy.


The court reasoned that the record did not demonstrate that Launer's withdrawal from his former profession was involuntary, particularly in light of the fact that he engaged in the profession for more than seven years following the events that precipitated his condition and did not claim lost wages for most of that period.


Further, the court noted that Launer did not complain about problems with being able to concentrate – which he said was what stopped him from being a successful bond broker – until after he had filed his comp claim.


Launer's claim was further undermined by the testimony of the doctor who performed his independent medical examination, who stated that PTSD has no significant cognitive component, and it shouldn't create problems with concentration.


Even though all of the medical experts agreed that Launer had PTSD, the court pointed out that none of them opined that Launer was incapable of continuing to work as a bond broker.


Thus, the court concluded that substantial evidence supported the board's determination that Launer's reduction in earnings was not causally related to his compensable disability.


Disposition: Affirmed.


To read the decision, click here.


Source: WorkCompCentral

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